I wrote earlier this week about the questions we have recently received on living in a small space, and the steps we took to make that feel like home. The second space related question we have been getting a lot lately goes along the lines of how do you live in a small space with another person. The answer? With a great deal of patience.
I never appreciated how big of a change it would be, prior to the three-bedroom semi-detached I’d actually rented a small annex on farm land, it was small to me then, coming in at around 42 metres squared. I first met James when I lived there and when he would come and stay for the weekend space would feel tight, but perhaps that was more as a result of being used to having it to myself!
What I’m trying to say is I thought I already had an appreciation for living in a smaller space, and whilst I was now used to the comfort of the semi-detached, getting back into the small living mindset shouldn’t be too much of a struggle. I often talked about how I had managed it and in fact enjoyed it before and that it was completely achievable. Even if the boat comes in at around half the square footage of what I’d previously considered to be a small living space.
I was wrong, you see the difference between living narrow and simply living small is that your living space is narrow, ground shattering concept I know! The space aboard is not only difficult due to being small, but even operating in it alone you must relearn how to move somewhat. I appreciate this probably sounds entirely mad but imagine for a moment that your living space is the width of the average two-seater sofa, you have to move around and go about your day within the confines of that sofa width.
Now add into that mix two dogs and another person and you’re starting to appreciate the space that we have. For the first few months we got in each other’s way, a heck of a lot. We had to learn to move differently, your movement within a narrow space become lateral, think lots of side stepping around folks! It’s a way of moving which you don’t really need to do in traditional square boxes.
Away from the difficulties in learning to move around one another there also came the issues in simply living alongside each other. James is messy, I moaned until I burst about the floordrobe he amounts, until I learnt to just shrug and accept it, its on his side of the bed and it’s his bloody problem. The small space magnifies problems like this, which is where the added dose of patience is required.
The easiest way to live with another person in the small space? Be accepting, be patient and realise what is really and problem and what isn’t. His floordrobe for example only becomes a problem when I can’t open my wardrobe, at this point I have a tantrum and it gets sorted. My habit for creating graveyards of used cups in hidey holes, well he accepts it, until Rosie the terrier finds one and relocates it to the Rosie Cave under the sofa. As with any relationship, whether it operates in a confined space or not, it’s give and take.
Small spaces also makes everyday tasks more annoying, for example weekend mornings, if one of you chooses to sleep in, the other person simply being up and about makes a colossal amount of noise in the small space. You’re sleeping a few feet from the kettle, making that first morning cuppa when the other is sleeping isn’t all that discreet.
So be prepared to relearn how to move around, be patient and accepting of one another’s quirks, anything else? I recommended it on the previous blog on space-based concerns, but I cannot emphasise enough how much I think external hobbies are important. Getting you both out of the confined space instantly makes it less claustrophobic.
There are times when it’s difficult, there are days when I sit and think how I’d love to just go to the bedroom and watch my trashy TV programmes while James watches his downstairs. It sounds so antisocial, but a traditional home offers you the space and option to have space from one another in the same space, if that makes any sense?
I have come to love how we live, we’ve made it work for us, but was it harder to fall into the rhythm than I imagined? Yes times ten.
James & Kirsty